What I Read and Loved in June 2019

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I’m finally on summer vacation from work. So far, my days have included a lot of sleeping, lounging, reading, TV-watching, and general laziness. I cannot recommend these things enough.

I’m excited to share what I read in June, but I’ve decided to switch up these monthly recaps a bit. In addition to the books I read, I also want to include things I loved throughout the month, whether it’s a podcast or a recipe. I’d love for you to share your favorite things too in the comments below.

Let’s get going.

What I Read

The Ruins book cover

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
Rating: 4/5

When Irish detective Cormac Reilly first started his career twenty years ago, he was called to a house in the middle of nowhere in which he found a woman who had overdosed on heroin. She left behind two kids, Maude and Jack. When The Ruin opens, Jack has just committed suicide, but his sister and girlfriend don’t believe that’s true. With the past resurfacing, Reilly is told to re-open the investigation of Jack’s mother’s death, which also might not be what it seems.

I enjoyed this dark and twisty crime story. Reilly is an engaging, well-developed character who never forgot Maude and Jack and what they went through. The blurb on the cover of this book says it’s perfect for fans of Tana French, and I agree. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

The Night Before by Wendy Walker
Rating: 2/5

Laura was devastated by an awful breakup, which led her to leave her life in New York City to move in with Rosie, her sister, and brother-in-law. Laura decides to give online dating a try, but when she doesn’t come home from a date, Rosie knows something is wrong and sets out to find her. Due to an incident in Laura’s past, Rosie doesn’t know whether Laura might be a victim or a perpetrator.

Though this book is entertaining, it lacks depth and nuance. I like thrillers that have well-rounded characters and believable twists, and I don’t think The Night Before has either.

The Woman in Cabin 10 book cover

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Rating: 3/5

Lo is a travel journalist who finally has a good assignment: she gets to spend a week on a new luxury cruise that offers beautiful scenery, pampering, and fine dining. One night in her cabin, Lo hears what sounds like a scream and a body thrown over the side of the ship. She looks outside and sees blood on a partition next to her room. When she reports what happened, the head of security doubts her story. All the guests are present, the blood has been cleaned up, and Lo has a few reasons why she might not be the most reliable witness.

The Woman in Cabin 10 is a fun read that’s perfect for summer. The novel has solid pacing and just enough creepiness to keep things interesting.

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy
Rating: 4/5

Though I read three thrillers in June, this nonfiction book was the most gripping page-turner I read all month. Beth Macy’s account of America’s opioid epidemic is utterly fascinating. She weaves together threads of poverty, addiction, politics, and a corrupt pharmaceutical company and presents a story as compelling as it is heartbreaking. If you’re looking for a better understanding of opioid addiction, this book is a must-read.

My year of rest and relaxation book cover

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Rating: 4/5

This novel’s protagonist has a life many young women envy. She’s a young, thin, beautiful blonde who is living in NYC, thanks to her inheritance. She works at an art gallery and has an older man who’s interested in her. She’s unsatisfied and unmotivated, though, and begins seeing a psychiatrist who gives her exactly what she wants: the ability to numb everything she doesn’t want to feel and the chance to just sleep for a year.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is worth all the hype it’s received. This novel is an absolute delight and one I wish I would have read sooner. (If you like this book, check out The New Me by Halle Butler. It has a similar theme and tone.)

What I Loved

PODCAST: To Live and Die in L.A.

Journalist Neil Strauss hosts this show which investigates the disappearance of Adea Shabani, a beautiful 25-year-old aspiring actress who came to Hollywood to chase her dreams. This true-crime podcast is the first I’ve ever binge-listened. (Is that a thing? I think it’s a thing.)

MOVIE: Yesterday

Jack has been trying to get his music career off the ground for over ten years with no luck. As he’s heading home one night after a gig, the entire world loses power for twelve seconds, and something strange happens: certain things that were once beloved no longer exist. Jack remembers the Beatles, but no one else does. He knows this is his chance to make it big, so he passes off their music as his own and quickly becomes the most famous musician in the world.

I liked this film even more than I thought I would, even though the plotline has a few holes. I’ve loved the Beatles ever since I was a little kid, and this movie reminded me of why.

GADGET: Chef’n VeggiChop Hand-Powered Food Chopper

I LOVE THIS LITTLE CHOPPER SO MUCH. I’m not a good or fast chopper, so I use this a lot. Even though it’s not motorized, it’s fast and powerful. It can handle crunchy carrots just as well as it handles hardboiled eggs. This is one of my most used kitchen tools.

Worthwhile Links

My June Blog Posts

How to Find Your Next Book

Between my Goodreads TBR and the hundreds of unread books I own, you wouldn’t think I’d be looking for new books to read. You’d be wrong, however, because I can’t help myself. Since I work in libraries, I tell myself hunting for new books is research for my job. Sometimes it is, but most of the time I just want a new, shiny book to read. In today’s post, I’m sharing my favorite resources for finding books. You can never have too many (or so I tell myself).

ANY NEW BOOKS NEWSLETTER

If you want to know what books are coming out each week but don’t want to spend time browsing various websites or stores, the Any New Books newsletter is for you. Other than the convenience, my favorite thing about Any New Books is that you can subscribe only to the lists you’re interested in. I get weekly emails about biographies and memoirs, mysteries, general fiction, and religion because those are my favorite genres. Being able to customize what’s coming into your inbox is a smart feature and one I appreciate. 

NETGALLEY & EDELWEISS

If you’d like to read and review new books before they’re released, sign up for NetGalley and Edelweiss. These sites are geared toward professionals like librarians, book buyers, and reviewers, but even if you’re none of those things, it’s worth creating an account. You visit the site, see what books you’re interested in, and either download what’s automatically available or put in a request for access. Back when I had zero online presence, I had a NetGalley account and was still approved for a lot of titles, so it’s worth a try even if you think you won’t get access to anything. The emails NetGalley sends out previewing new titles are helpful too. 

BOOK SUBSCRIPTIONS

Like most people, I enjoy getting stuff in the mail, especially when it’s books from Page 1 Books or Book of the Month. I mentioned both of these services in my gift guide for book people, but they’re worth a second look. They’re both subscriptions, but different kinds. (This isn’t an ad; I genuinely love these services.)

With Page 1 Books, you fill out a form indicating what you like to read, and they send you a handpicked book each month. The book comes beautifully wrapped and includes some bookish goodies. If you’re concerned about getting a book you already own or don’t like, just let Page 1 know, and they’ll send you a replacement and let you keep the other book. I love love love this subscription. Their prices start at $65 for a 3-month subscription.

Book of the Month allows readers to choose what books they receive. Each month there’s a selection of 5 books. These are hardcover new releases and can include fantasy, romance, thrillers, literary fiction, and much more. A monthly membership costs $14.99, and you can add on up to two more books for $9.99 each. You also get access to BOTM’s past selections until they sell out. If there’s nothing that interests you in a certain month, your credits will roll over to the next one. 

WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT? PODCAST

I’ve been obsessed with podcasts lately. The first one I ever listened to is What Should I Read Next? With Anne Bogel, and it’s still a favorite. (Anne’s blog is lovely, too.) Each week on the podcast Anne interviews a guest. They’re asked about their reading life and list three books they love, one they don’t, and what they’re reading now. With that in mind, Anne suggests three books they might enjoy reading next. I’ve gotten a lot of good recommendations from this show. Occasionally there are guests whose reading taste is entirely opposite of mine, but I still enjoy listening. Hearing readers talk passionately about books is always enjoyable, whether I want to read those books or not.  


There are many resources out there for finding books (including your local librarians), but these are the ones that continually work for me. What about you? How do you find your books? 


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Top Five Friday: Bookish Websites

When I first started using the Internet, I was in elementary school. My family had our own PC which made us the coolest people ever in my young mind. I was as familiar with the tone of the dial-up connecting as I was the sound of my own name. I had several floppy discs and was blown away by the idea of a search engine. If you hadn’t noticed yet, the Internet has come a long way. That’s good news, especially for book people.

Today I’m sharing five of my favorite literary websites. I like each of these sites for different reasons and rely on them often. Plus, no floppy disks are necessary, so that’s nice.

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The Millions

I’ve been a fan of this site for a long time. Twice a year they do a considerable book preview, and these posts always result in me adding way too many books to my ever-growing TBR. My favorite thing about the Millions, though, is their essays. Sometimes they’re about specific books or writers, but some are more general. No matter the topic, I’ve found the pieces on this site to be well-written and thoughtful. (My favorite contributor is Nick Ripatrazone who mostly writes about poetry.)

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Literary Hub

Like the Millions, Lit Hub offers excellent essays, interviews, and criticism, but I think Lit Hub offers more diversity, both in the genres they cover and the inclusion of writers of color. Besides the consistent quality of the writing, another thing I love about this site is an offshoot they launched called Book Marks. It’s a bit like Rotten Tomatoes in that it shares the newest books, rounds up their reviews, and lists how many were positive and negative.

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Book Riot

The thing I like best about this site is that they cover a wide array of books and writers. If you can think of an incredibly specific genre or title, I’m willing to bet Book Riot has talked about it. The quality of the writing on this site is more hit and miss than the Millions and Lit Hub, but there’s a lot of good stuff to be found if you’re willing to wade through the variety of their posts to find something that interests you. They post a lot of content every day, so there’s certainly a good chance there will be something that you want to read.

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NoveList

I talked about NoveList in my post about how I use my public library, but I love it so much that I’m mentioning it again. This site is different than the others because it’s a subscription service. To see if you have access, check with your local public or academic library. If you do have access, I don’t know of a better source for finding book recommendations than NoveList. You can find book recs all over the Internet, of course, but what’s great about NoveList is how precisely you can search for books. You can find titles by searching for things like a strong sense of place, a specific time period, writing style, and more. NoveList is also an excellent resource for those of us who work in libraries. When I needed to brush up on my readers’ advisory skills, I turned to NoveList for their excellent articles about various book genres and how to get the right books to the right patrons. I use this site all the time and know my job would be much harder if it didn’t exist.

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Goodreads

Goodreads combines two of my favorite things: books and lists. I’ve been using the site to track my reading since 2010. (You can find me here.) I enjoy setting reading goals each year, and their challenge tracker is fantastic. There’s something incredibly satisfying about finishing a book and adding it to my Goodreads list. I also love keeping track of what my friends are reading. I use the site to find quotes, and I enjoy entering their giveaways. I won a copy of The Girls by Emma Cline once, so I’m convinced I’m going to win again any day now.


Are you a fan of any of these sites? What are your must-visit bookish sites?


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Weekly Favorites: Volume 5

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

WORDS

BLOG

  • I came across a book blog that I’ve fallen in love with. Check out the Literary Edit if you like books and beautiful web design.

MUSIC

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TELEVISION

  • Due to my fondness for Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, I started watching the Amazon series Forever. I’m four episodes in and am enjoying it so far. I like how it keeps subverting my expectations.

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INTERIOR DESIGN


What are your favorite things right now?

Weekly Favorites: Volume 4

WORDS

MUSIC

I’m not typically a fan of country music, but I started listening to Kacey Musgraves earlier this year and am in love with her music, specifically her newest album. It’s been on constant rotation this week.

NPR shared this video of Musgraves singing Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know,” and it’s lovely.

FOOD

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  • The Magnolia Table cookbook has been one of my favorites lately. I made the sour cream chicken enchiladas for dinner one night this week, and they were delicious. Also, the chocolate chip cookie recipe in here resulted in the best cookies I’ve ever made.

What have you been loving lately?

Weekly Favorites: Vol. 3

WORDS

INSPIRATION

As part of some recent library training, I’ve been assigned a course by Ryan Dowd about the best practices for interacting with patrons who are homeless. I’m about halfway through the course and have been impressed with Dowd’s insights, not only about homelessness but also trauma and poverty. I looked him up on YouTube and found this talk he gave about moral failure. It’s worth your time.

SCREEN

I saw A Star Is Born last Sunday and am still thinking about it. It’s a phenomenal film.

MUSIC

The soundtrack to A Star Is Born has been on frequent rotation this week.

WEBSITE

Wakelet is a site I discovered for the first time this past week. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s as if Pinterest and Pocket had a baby. It allows you to create collections of links, photos, text, PDFs, and tweets. Wakelet is easy to use and is well designed. I’ve been playing with it a lot, and am a big fan so far.

Weekly Favorites: Vol. 1

WORDS

MUSIC

  • When autumn arrives,  I want pumpkin spice lattes, long cardigans, and melancholy folk songs. Thankfully, Spotify delivered on that last thing with their Autumn Acoustic playlist.

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IMAGES

FOOD

Last Sunday night, I made the black bean and mushroom enchiladas from Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook. It was fantastic and also heated up nicely. On Thursday night I made her stew recipe, which is perfect for chilly autumn nights. If you can’t tell, I love this cookbook.


What have you been enjoying this week?